In this thought-provoking new book, Anthony Smith analyses key debates between historians and social scientists on the role of nations and nationalism in history. In a wide-ranging analysis of the work of historians, sociologists, political scientists and others, he argues that there are three key issues which have shaped debates in this field: first, the nature and origin of nations and nationalism; second, the antiquity or modernity of nations and nationalism; and third, the role of nations and nationalism in historical, and especially recent, social change. Anthony Smith provides an incisive critique of the debate between modernists, perennialists and primordialists over the origins, development and contemporary significance of nations and nationalism. Drawing on a wide range of examples from antiquity and the medieval epoch, as well as the modern world, he develops a distinctive ethnosymbolic account of nations and nationalism. This important book by one of the world's leading authorities on nationalism and ethnicity will be of particular interest to students and scholars in history, sociology and politics.